Who do you admire? Viva Docsters tell us

Last week Viva Documentary President Margaret Ratliff asked Viva Documentary members which doc-makers they admire and why. Here are some responses that were sent to vivadocumentary@gmail.com:

Viva Docster Cassie B. is a fan of the Maysles bros:

The Maysles Brothers have inspired me as a student and beginning documentarian with their approach to non-fiction storytelling with films such as “Salesman” and “Grey Gardens.”

There is a quote from Albert Maysles that has defined my outlook on documentary filmmaking and life itself – “After all, the knowledge of the real world is exactly what we need to better understand and therefore possibly to love one another.”

Viva Docster Josh C. wants Michael Moore to keep digging:

I am a fan of Michael Moore’s work. I just hope that when he makes his films from now on, he is more careful about what footage he uses so that people don’t accuse him of taking people out of context or making up facts. He can make great points with people who actually want to be in the film. Keep digging Mike!

Viva Doctster Mary H. admires Werner Herzog’s work:

I have only recently been watching more documentaries so i’m not really familiar with a lot of the directors (at least not enough to say that I ultimately admire them)… but I did enjoy Werner Herzog’s film “Grizzly Man.”

One of the moments that most stood out for me in regards to the film and the film maker is the fact that he shows the viewers his reaction to Timothy Treadwell’s death. It was a moment where I questioned whether our focus should be on Timothy actual death or Herzog’s reaction?

I’ve only seen Herzog’s Grizzly Man but I’d be interested in viewing his other films to see if he also puts himself in those as well ( Puts himself as in terms of seeing him on the screen and not just narrating). If anything I found it amusing that he did that.

Viva Docster Mario C. admires Herzog for a totally different reason:

I admire Werner Herzog because of a film called Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe.

It was a publicity stunt where Werner told Errol Morris that he would eat a shoe if he (Errol) completed his film, Gates of Heaven. The film that I saw was of Werner cooking and eating the shoe. It was a great moment in cinema history and it made Herzog one of my favorite filmmakers.

Do you have opinions about the filmmakers mentioned above? Who do you admire? Leave a comment!

Update:Michael L. emails in another one:

I have to say that I really admire a team of filmmakers: Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The two films that really stand out that these filmmakers have done are Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media and The Corporation. These two Canadian documentary filmmakers have managed to create two films that really challenge the status quo, questioning capitalism and its place in modern society. The techniques to do this are both traditional and not. The talking head appears in the Corporation as a main way to get ideas across. But they also have kind of visual essay going on that looks like something you may find in a high school, with an authoritative women’s voice speaking down. Both films have an essay feel that helps me personally, conceptualize the ideas that they are talking about. Manufacturing Consent lets the view understand the business of media and lets the view examine this though the individual Noam Chomsky. This is quit outstanding that they exploited the love and idol worship that comes in the Western world surrounding the individual. These filmmakers in Manufacturing Consent exploit this love for the individual thought telling the story of Noam Chomsky as a way to express impotent ideas dealing with freedom and what it means in an almost anarco-capitalist world. I think it is important for content and form to work off each other to make a good film, they have to overlap in all mediums of art.


  1. I really enjoy Errol Morris’ work. He is able to communicate at depth without it feeling forced and I don’t lose interest in most of his films. I do like the Maysles brothers as well. Herzog… I am not too impressed with his documentary work. This is mostly due to Land of Silence and Darkness. I couldn’t finish it.

  2. I wasn’t crazy about Grizzly Man the first time I saw it but I really enjoyed Incident at Loch Ness and his role as The German in the mockumentary The Grand.

    He definitely had to grow on me.

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